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L. E. McCartney: My Recollections of LZ Margo (conclusion)

Eyewitness to Heroes

Jim Anton and I served together in the same 45-man platoon, but I didn't know him. However, based on Kelly Dilley-Anton's amazing ability to capture the 'feel' of LZ Margo I have no doubt Jim would deny that we were heroes. He would emphasize that we served with heroes. We are among the eyewitnesses to true heroism. That heroism took many forms, but is best explained by the renowned author Samuel L. Clemens, aka 'Mark Twain' who said; "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear," a quote which describes how many men resisted and mastered their fear at LZ Margo to help their fellow man.

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."


Mark Twain

What happened at LZ Margo on Monday, September 16, 1968 has forever impacted my life. While the experience was horrendous, I learned from extraordinary men and am a better man for it. I count myself among the luckiest of men since I am the only one who was able walk away from that killing zone at the waterhole under my own power.

However, despite my own situation that day, my good fortune and the invaluable lessons I learned, I still beat myself up for not immediately recognizing Lance Corporal Spiller's peril and responding quicker.


Likewise, I beat myself up for having told Lance Corporal Daffin of the situation, even though I know it was the right thing to do and that he would have been angry with me if he knew I knew, but didn't tell him. I often ask myself why I didn't just go on my own, without saying anything to Daffin. Would he still be alive? I also often ask myself if Spiller would have sustained fewer, less serious wounds and have survived if I had responded quicker? Questions without answers. I have come to terms with my decisions, knowing hindsight is 20/20. I did the best I could and I accept that I made the decisions I thought were right.

Sustaining such a large number of casualties is heartbreaking at any time, yet even more so when you consider the unrecognized heroism of so many selfless young men. From just my position, a small 'window' of the battle, I saw many true American heroes. Chief among them were Lance Corporals Clifton Spiller and Gary Daffin.

However there were more than just a few others, men who unhesitantly responded to help their fellow men during their time of need. Men such as First Lieutenants Larry D. St. John, Jeffery J. Lloyd, Bruce S. Lewy and Alan B. Green, Staff Sergeant Juan O. Sanchez, Sergeant Vincent J. Griffith, Corporals Hilary K. 'Pete' Schroeder, Jeffery Nelson and Lyle Newton, HM3s John A. Lancaster, Jr. and Raymond A. Smith, Lance Corporals Robert M. Reed, Sr. and James T. 'Sparky' Nangle, Jr., PFC Grover J. Longnecker, and of course the unidentified Hotel Company Marines who left the protection of their positions to assist me, are some who immediately come to mind.

They are the very best of the American 'Baby Boomer' generation. God bless them all.

Semper Fidelis!!!

Lawrence E. "Larry" McCartney

Master Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (retired)

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